Broderick Rhyant, M.D.,
chief physician executive, Eskenazi Health Center Forest Manor
Many of us have seen in the news recently that the number of those testing positive for the coronavirus has recently dropped considerably. While that’s certainly good news, please understand that a condition referred to as long COVID is real and something you and your loved ones want to avoid.
Long COVID is when uncomfortable and sometimes agonizing symptoms of the coronavirus last for extensive periods of time.
Most of those who contract COVID-19 deal with inconvenient symptoms for a few days or perhaps a week or two. Those symptoms include fatigue, problems with memory and thinking, loss of taste and smell, shortness of breath, insomnia, anxiety and depression. With long COVID, people may experience those sometimes serious annoyances for weeks, months or even as long as a year or more.
Anyone young, old or somewhere in between, may be afflicted with long COVID. Although post-COVID conditions appear to be less common in children and adolescents than in adults, long-term effects do occur in children and adolescents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies have reported long-term symptoms in children with both mild and severe COVID-19 symptoms.
CDC research discovered that long COVID is more prevalent among those who were hospitalized, but it also strikes a significant portion who were not. People who did not experience COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID conditions that may persist for different stretches of time.
Experiencing post-COVID conditions can be confusing and frustrating, and a person who feels sick long-term may feel isolated. To determine the most helpful steps you can take for others, first listen with compassion and ask questions about what they need. The CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/howrightnow/resources/index.html provides helpful tools for navigating conversations about the type of support someone with post-COVID conditions may need.
The CDC suggests employers can support their employees experiencing post-COVID by offering flexible leave and work schedule policies, and by providing access to employee assistance programs.
The best way to avoid long COVID is to avoid COVID-19 to begin with. For people who are eligible, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible is the best way to prevent getting COVID-19 and help protect those around you.
People who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their health care provider immediately. If you are ill with flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call your health center or clinic before coming to your appointment. If you are an Eskenazi Health patient, please call 317.880.7666 before coming to your appointment. Health care professionals are available 24/7 to answer questions on symptoms and direct you to the most appropriate care. It is important to first call before arriving at Eskenazi Health.